Universal Access To All Knowledge
Home Donate | Store | Blog | FAQ | Jobs | Volunteer Positions | Contact | Bios | Forums | Projects | Terms, Privacy, & Copyright
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload

Reply to this post | See parent post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 6, 2013 6:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

That's certainly a fascinating example of a Pigpen tale...
Actually I don't remember hearing another one like that, though there may well be more examples in '69. But threatening violence to a woman must be really rare in the Lovelight raps; 99% of the time he's just asking for sex.

The other thing about this is, this Lovelight is going to be officially released next month, so perhaps we will get to hear the end of the tale & how it turned out between him & his woman...
It's possible he was extra-drunk that night, he does sound a bit more aggressive than usual, and perhaps this does reflect something personal.
I notice a couple things about this tale, though - one, despite the pistol threat, the woman has a counter-threat, so he presents the two people as equally matched (or, more exactly, the man as stuck & unable to get out of the situation, not on top of things). One of the odd role reversals of this particular tale is that usually Pigpen presents himself as extremely needy & desperate for women.
Also, the story is clearly intended as humor, like most of his Lovelight raps, though it doesn't come across that way. (Another example is the famous 4/17/71 Good Lovin', where Pigpen tells the story of buying a fat girl from some pimp after a fight with his "old lady" - evidently meant to be hilarious.)

Another thing to recall about this type of drivel is that Pigpen's whole shtick was copying older blues acts, and such aggressive posturing was definitely a part of it. Recall Robert Johnson singing "I'm gonna beat my woman til I get satisfied" or "if she gets unruly I'll take my 32-20 and cut her half in two," just to name an example. (And if you know about the bluesmen of that era, they lived in levels of personal violence that easily outmatch today's rappers.) So Pigpen lapped this stuff up like mother's milk, along with more sympathetic blues material (like, say, Lovelight itself).

One thing's for sure: it was an act. When Blair Jackson was researching Pigpen's life, he found that Pigpen was unanimously loved among everyone who knew him, no one had a bad word to say (of course, dying young will often put your bad points off-limits among friends). All the bandmembers say that he was really a sweet, sensitive softie, and this whole big bad bluesman persona was just stage posturing. More remarkably, women who were his friends say the same thing.

I won't defend anything he says onstage, just point out that 1) in his teens & 20's, he thought it was really cool to imitate older black bluesmen in every respect, including their aggressive or boastful attitudes, and 2) the band & audience loved it. (You can hear all the cheers, for instance, during this particular Lovelight tale.)
Doesn't mean anyone has to love it today, but this kind of thing really struck a chord in the '60s, judging by all the white singers who were trying to do similarly sexual blues-rock acts. While it may seem strange that the rest of the Dead would accept it, keep in mind that at the time, their views or treatment of women in 'real life' were probably not much different from his, or for that matter most other young '60s musicians.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 6, 2013 8:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I go back and forth on how much is bluesman posturing as opposed to truly feeling that way,not knowing the man I can only speculate and that is really no way to come to any kind of conclusion.It just seems by his raps that at the very least he see's women as purely sexual beings here to service men whether or not they need to be chased down or they give them self to the man.I just can't wrap my brain around seeing another human as subservient,especially one your'e involved with intimately,it just seems so ignorant and backward thinking in a time where there was actually a little growth in those areas and you would think being around strong,intelligent women it would open his eyes some to the lameness of the crap he was helping to perpetuate by doing those raps as entertaining and harmless as they might seem.You wisely pointed out a bunch of guys cheering the violent threats.

WT smartly made the points you did in that he was young and impressionable and filling a role in the band and I know I'm overly critical of the guy,but I have a hard time relating to that level of lack of awareness,I mean I'm not that far removed from those times I was 16 in 74' and I remember women commanding much more respectful treatment.

As far as there being other examples of Lovelight's this far out there I can't recall any and I gave a fairly close listen to most all that are available,that's not to say there aren't because I surely could have missed some,but this one stood out in my mind.It's funny I hadn't put together until GerryO and your post that this is the next Dave's Picks and we will hopefully get to hear the rest of the tale as I was wondering today where it wound up as the band seemed real quiet as he was doing his thing.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 6, 2013 10:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

The '60s were very sexist times, not to excuse Pigpen, just to note that he had a lot of social support for his kind of raps - audiences ate them up. (And, as we've mentioned in this forum before, Dead audiences were primarily young men.)

Far from strong, intelligent women around Pigpen opening his eyes, I suspect they may have dug his raps as much as the men. What he did onstage was the flipside of what Janis did (and their Lovelights together are notorious). Several bandmembers have said that black women in particular loved Pigpen; so it doesn't seem like anyone took offense at him at the time, instead they were charmed. Reading the loving terms with which some women remembered him was pretty surprising for me; I should quote some of them sometime.

He may have seen those raps as kind of like sexual fantasies with no bearing on real life, all just in play. I think a lot of stuff he sang with no thought at all. In a way, his role was as a public id, enacting the male audience's desires to be the man in control with women at his fingertips, etc. But he also picked up a lot of the dualism in blues songs, where on one hand women are sexual conquests, and on the other hand they're all-powerful beings to be supplicated. (Lovelight has both poles, where the song has the man begging, & then the rap has the man picking up the ladies with a snap.)
He wrote few songs himself, but in some of them (Operator, Empty Pages & Two Souls) he comes across as desperately lonely. Of course that was possibly a blues-soaked act as well, with little reflection of the 'real' Pigpen.
What he expressed onstage was very limited in scope, especially since it was such a limited repertoire, most of it borrowed from earlier blues singers. When the people who knew him agree that in person he was nothing like the onstage Pigpen, and they all admired him, I'm wary of drawing any conclusions about him.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 7, 2013 9:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

None of what you said is lost on me.I was referring not to the women who would be willing to date Pigpen,but women like Betty Cantor,Mountain Girl and I would assume some other smart women around the scene and just being alive at that time who would open his eyes a little bit.

Even if it was just his role in the band and wasn't what he was like it kept all those fools in the crowd cheering along to some damaging material and if just one guy went home and punched his girlfriend in the face because that type of behavior was reinforced in his dull mind by Pigpen then that's one too many for some showbiz bravado.Bottom line is that is a lame persona to take on and the rest of the band should be ashamed to have backed that weak shit and at some point called him on it,maybe not 65' or 67' but certainly by Dec 69'.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 7, 2013 11:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Mountain Girl said in an interview:
"You couldn't help but love Pigpen. He was loveable and everybody liked him. He sang like an old blues singer - it wasn't so much what he sang, it was how he was singing it. He had a lot of soul. It was sure sad to lose him."

Betty Cantor has never said anything about Pigpen that I know of, but Rosie McGee (Phil's girlfriend) wrote about how he behaved with her at 710 Ashbury: "...a gruff kind of low-key flirting, all in jest, but sometimes accompanied by an ass-grab. I did spend some time alone with Pig in his room, talking with him and listening to him play his guitar and sing softly. In those timeless moments, I learned what a big-hearted softie he really was."
She also writes a lot about Pigpen's girlfriend Veronica, a black lady who sounds like nobody's fool.

Anyway, all the women in that scene who've said anything about Pigpen pretty much say the same things (none of them, by the way, were his girlfriends). Not only did Pigpen win friendship & support from the women around him, the band was not ashamed to back Pigpen's raps and didn't consider them lame; they were impressed by his ability to spin off these tales. Nobody was ever going to call him on his attitude. That's just the historical perspective I wanted to add; you can call it a blindness in the people around him; but we're free to judge Pigpen as we like.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 8, 2013 10:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I'm not trying to demonize the guy and I wouldn't doubt he was as portrayed by the comments made about him,I'm simply calling him on what was a small part of his "act" that was unacceptable.Any reasonable person who broke down some of the things he said and the attitude it conveyed would have to find it questionable at best,not the innocuous stuff,the under my thumb,perform your role type of shit.I'm pretty sure we all have a friend or family member who is a bit of a racist,sexist,homophobe or what have you and we still chose to think of them as a loveable guy or an old softie,but that doesn't make those attitudes any more palatable.

I can see the band grooving on his ability to weave a Brooklyn bridge tale or some of the other colorful stories he incorporated into his raps,but at the base of his bluesman pose was an attitude that women were to be treated as a man saw fit and you would hope that wouldn't be acceptable behavior to people you considered intelligent.I would think that it was obvious in this thread I wasn't dictating what people should think about Pigpen,although I surely would be interested in the perspective someone as intelligent as Althearose had on the subject.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Apr 8, 2013 2:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I wrote a post early Saturday on this thread, and as I went to post it the Archive went into maintenance - it was lost. Going back to your original thrust, totally agree with loathing the Doors and their thin, simplistic sound. Always hated the organ leads. Their only song that worked well was in movie context, in Apocalypse now. Never understood the deifying of Morrison.

I'm with you about Pigpen, up to a point. Although some "elders" here see him as essential to the band's early development and popularity, I can't find much to like in his strained vocals, pathetic harmonica, and tedious raps. Mr. Charlie and H2H are the best - because the music is so strong. Perhaps his strongest contribution is channeling some of the band's early energy into full-on blues, and helping JG become the guitarist that he was meant to be in the process.

I get that you think his schtick is totally misogynistic - it is - but I think it's the sincerest form of flattery when you idolize blues singers. He wanted to BE Lightnin' Hopkins or Robert Johnson in the moment, in the act of performing. He considered himself following in a long line of blues singers, with the same intent - getting some hooch and scoring with the ladies. Mostly harmless, until you use language as you cited, or drink yourself to death. I always hated his objectifying women by calling them his "rider" - as disposable as a motorcycle, but this term of 'endearment' can be found decades before Pig.

Bottom line - I can give Pig a pass most of the time, since it was a performance and not the man everyone knew in person. But, I can't give a pass to poor musicianship; nor can I tolerate most gangsta rap thuggery, since it also plays out in mayhem on the streets, even though it derives from similar roots.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 8, 2013 4:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I'm always pleased when we can be even somewhat on the same wavelength because I have great respect for most everything you post,and unlike some folks you seem to understand what I was getting at.The music stuff is subjective and really who cares,but there is just an overwhelming lack of respect tied into Pig's whole hard drinkin',macho man act,and why he is that way is immaterial.You can explain away almost any type of misbehavior,but that doesn't undo the harm it can cause,kind of like what you were saying about the effect of gangsta rap thuggery.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 8, 2013 12:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I was hoping AltheaRose would chime in as well, but she seems to be in one of her non-internet periods.

I suspect the whole band were what might be called 'sexist pigs' by today's standards, and probably any women who knew them accepted that, just like they'd accept massive drinking or drug use. The status of being around a 'rock star' means all kinds of behavior can get swept under the rug. Sexist attitudes would be par for the course - though Pigpen's unique in that he chose to directly rap about it onstage.

I'm surprised you consider Mick Jagger's type of lyrics innocuous compared to Pigpen. Seems like the other way around to me - Jagger's a lot nastier in some songs! If Jagger's just a harmless put-on, Pigpen fits in the same role...at least I'd guess few people take him too seriously. I've seen many complaints about his raps being dull, repetitive, taking away from the music, etc, but almost none about their being offensive.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 8, 2013 1:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I didn't mean that under my thumb reference in relation to Jagger,I meant it attitudinal way,it was a very poorly constructed and confusing sentence in hindsight.I couldn't express how little respect I have for Jagger as a person.

It doesn't seem like I clearly expressed what it is about Pigpen I find distasteful,I get the wide view on his view raps in that were playful and not meant in any way to be harmful or mean spirited,and I'm not sitting back analyzing every word and taking him overly seriously,but the undercurrent of what he is preaching comes from an ugly and unwelcome past.

I personally am not willing to give the guys a pass for being sexist douche bags because they were rock stars or products of their times,they seemed to have figured out that racism wasn't proper behavior and that was certainly prevalent in the same timespan and I'm pretty sure there was a women's movement pushing an agenda that the way they were being treated was unacceptable and shameful that the boys might have caught wind of.Again this was the late 60's-early 70's not 1962.It's sort of like now where it's still kind of okay to shit on women,gay and Jewish people to a certain extent,but not being any of those there are more credible people to speak to it than me.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Skobud Date: Apr 8, 2013 8:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

"The '60s were very sexist times, not to excuse Pigpen, just to note that he had a lot of social support for his kind of raps - audiences ate them up."

Fuck yea they were. Leon Russell made an entire career doing essentially the same style as Pig. More R&B but full of raps.

Whatever happened to just being fucking "wild"? Everybody knows some crazy motherfucker(s) like that. At least I have. Dudes from outer space, like a different breed. That's how I think of him. My conclusion about him is that he was a fucking presence wherever he went. He drank all day every day. That is insane.

Man's World opener from 4/15/70 pretty much sums up everything I love about Pig in one tune. He was a badass. The power of the voice. Like Wolf. The emotion he conveyes is locomotive style. Dominating shit.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 8, 2013 11:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

It seems to me Leon Russell made a career of writing standards like A Song for You,This Masquerade,Superstar,I Put a Spell on You and that's not even getting into the bulk of his more rock,r+b,blues,country repertoire.He is also a very talented musician on keyboards,bass and guitar and played on countless studio sessions.So some blues raps aside I can't see how they have anything at all in common.Howlin' Wolf was a legend and to put Pigpen on his level is a stretch,Pig had a weak voice and I've never heard him get through a vocal without some sort of screw up,voice crack,or timing issue.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Skobud Date: Apr 8, 2013 6:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

I disagree. You are changing what I actually said so it suits your point. You have completely missed my point. Leon and Pig were similar in some ways and I think Pig had a powerful voice.

To say Leon and Pig had "nothing in common" is simply not true. Have you ever even heard "Leon Live"? I have no idea how you can say they have nothing in common. That is total bullshit.

When I said "Like Wolf" I was referring to the power of Pig's voice when his game was on. I never compared them as musicians. I was talking about the power of the voice - not who was a better or more talented musician.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 8, 2013 8:28pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

As I pointed out Leon made a career out of being a great songwriter,singer and musician who performed many styles of music from blues,c+w,r+b,rock and gospel.You said he made "an entire career doing essentially the same style as Pig",which is really undervaluing Leon's talents,I did not completely miss your point I completely disagree with it.I think saying Pig,a half-ass,blues wannabe and the great Leon Russell have common ground is quite humorous.As for Pig's powerful voice I guess we'll have to say to each his own.

I didn't compare Howlin' Wolf and Pigpen as musicians either,I said"Howlin' Wolf was a legend and to put Pigpen on his level is a stretch,Pig had a weak voice and I've never heard him get through a vocal without some sort of screw up,voice crack or timing issue".




This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2013-04-09 03:28:30

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Skobud Date: Apr 9, 2013 4:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

You just completely repeated yourself. Fine. I get it.

According to you Pigpen is a half-assed wannabe and "The Great" Leon Russell is extremely talented and terribly undervalued and shares absolutely no common ground with Pigpen nor does Pigpen share any comon ground with Wolf, and bringing them up in the same conversation is blasphemy.

Whatever.







Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 9, 2013 8:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Partially correct,but any further discussion seems useless because you are still half wrong and it is a ridiculous conversation.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Skobud Date: Apr 9, 2013 12:02pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Ridiculous is correct, you've now repeated yourself twice and just now called me "partially correct" and "half wrong" in the same sentence. That doesn't even make sense.

Listen man, obviously no one has explained to you that if you do not have the basic grammar skills required to write properly, it invalidates any point you make. Every sentence you write is a run on and the punctuation is totally fucking wrong. How you can possibly expect to be taken seriously is beyond me, especially when the basic rules of grammar are obviously out of your reach.

If you are going to talk so much shit, at least have the common courtesy of learning basic sentence structure.

I read up on you dude. This LIA wannabe thing you think you are doing is as transparent as your logic. Just because you think something is true, does not make it true. It only makes it your opinion - which is both "partially correct" and "half wrong".


This post was modified by Skobud on 2013-04-09 19:02:46

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: snori Date: Apr 7, 2013 7:09am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

It is unfair to judge music. lyrics, and behaviour by today's standards. (And some of the songs Pig sang were prety old) Do you think 'Good morning little schoolgirl' would get airtimme today ?

I like some Doors songs (LA Woman springs to mind)others don't do anything for me at all, though it might have been interesting to see an early live show.

Here's Jerry's opinion -

Jerry Garcia: I never liked The Doors. I found them terribly offensive... when we played with them. It was back when (Jim) Morrison was just a Mick Jagger copy. That was his whole shot, that he was a Mick Jagger imitation. Not vocally, but his moves, his whole physical appearence, were totally stolen from right around Mick Jagger's 1965 tour of the States. He used to move around a lot, before he started to earn his reputation as a poet, which I thought was not really deserved. Rimbaud was great at eighteen, nineteen, and Verlaine. Those guys were great. Fuckin' Jim Morrison wasn't great. I'm sorry.

I could never see what it was about The Doors. They had a very brittle sound live, a three-piece band with no bass-the organ player (Ray Manzarek) used to do it. That and that kinda raga-rock guitar style was strange. It sounded very brittle and sharp-edged to me, not something I enjoyed listening to.

I kind of appreciated some of the stuff that they did later, and I appreciated a certain amount of Morrison's sheer craziness, just because that's always a nice trait in rock and roll. No, I never knew him, but Richard Loren, who works for us, was his agent and had to babysit him through his most drunken scenes and all the times he got busted and all that crap. He's got lots of stories to tell about Morrison.

I was never attracted to their music at all, so I couldn't really find anything to like about them. When we played with them, I think I watched the first tune or two, then I went upstairs and fooled with my guitar. There was nothing there that I wanted to know about. He was so patently an imitation of Mick Jagger that it was offensive. To me, when The Doors played in San Francisco they typified Los Angeles coming to San Francisco, which I equated with having the look right, but zero substance. This is way before their hit song "Light My Fire." Probably at the time in their development it was too early for anybody to make a decent judgement of them, but I've always looked for something else in music, and whatever it was they didn't have it. They didn't have anything of blues, for example, in their sound and feel.

Jackson: Did you sense the negativity?

Garcia: No, not really. All I sensed was sham. As far as I was concerned, it was just surface and no substance. Then we opened for them in Santa Barbara some years later, when they were a little more powerful. Their sound had gotten better-they'd gotten more effectively amplified, so Manzarek's bass lines and stuff like that had a little more throb, but their sound was still thin. It wasn't a successful version of a three-piece band, like The Who or Jimi Hendrix or Cream, or any of the other guitar power-trio-type three piece bands. It's an interesting concept-a three-piece band that's keyboard, guitar and drums-but it was missing some element that I felt was vital. I couldn't say exactly what it was, but it was not satisfying for me to listen to them.

***

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: jerlouvis Date: Apr 7, 2013 8:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Pigpen

Well the Pigpen stuff was 1969 not 1951 so I will feel free to judge his behavior as unacceptable.I understand that over years what is acceptable in all art forms change.Interesting Garcia quotes I have never seen the first and last paragraphs.